A former CIA director has gone on-record stating that US President Donald Trump’s Twitter shenanigans might actually give foreign leaders more room to manipulate the US president and exploit his personal need to bow to the whims of the moment at any cost.
US Intelligence Community veteran Gen. Michael Hayden has served as the NSA and CIA since the Clinton era and into the Bush era. He wrote a scathing analysis in The Hill on Tuesday of Trump’s unfiltered Twitter account. Notably, he questioned Trump’s six week-escapade on non-existent “tapes” of conversations between Trump and former FBI Director James Comey.
The ensuing intelligence reports write themselves. “You can almost anticipate the language in the report. ‘Mr. Prime Minister, you need to know that President Trump appears to be what the Americans call a bullshitter,’” Hayden wrote.
“Good stuff for our adversaries to know in upcoming sessions with POTUS” the general quipped. The tweets are “hardly designed to maximize the president’s leverage,” he added. Unpredictability may have been a winning trait on the campaign trail, but “I’m not so sure that that is true in all cases,” he warned ominously.
Intelligence reporters say spy agencies build profiles of foreign heads of state. Intelligence analysts look at what kind of person the leader is, how the person leads and how does this profile match up with the individual’s self-presentation and ambitions. Next, analysts might look to offer their own expectations of the head of state and how to leverage this guidance for domestic advantage.
The profiles help “gauge how a leader will react,” Hayden said. “The president’s Twitter tsunami must be a goldmine for foreign services (including friendly ones) in developing his profile,” said Hayden, who led the NSA from 1999 to 2005 before directing the CIA from May 2006 to February 2009.
This is how former CIA targeting officer Nada Bakos described one lens intelligence foreign intelligence services might use to analyze America’s 45th President, according to an article in The Washington Post on June 23. Targeting officers work in the CIA’s Directorate of Operations (DO) where they plan and implement “foreign intelligence collection, counterintelligence, and Covert Action operations,” CIA states on its website. Agents “identify new opportunities for DO operational activity and to enhance ongoing opportunity.”
If there’s anyone who can provide an idea of how foreign governments might go about taking advantage of Trump’s bombastic tweets, it might be someone like Bakos.
Opportunities for Spies Abroad
The president’s “frequent strong statements in reaction to news coverage or events make it appear as if he lacks impulse control,” Bakos wrote. “An analyst would offer suggestions on how foreign nations could instigate stress or deescalate situations, depending on what type of influence they may want to have
“An analyst would offer suggestions on how foreign nations could instigate stress or deescalate situations, depending on what type of influence they may want to have over the president,” she said.
The president’s Twitter account is widely seen as a “weapon” to communicate directly with his audience sans an intermediary or distributor (like news outlets). Still, it has backfired to the detriment of the president’s agenda. Federal judges cited Trump’s Twitter feed when ruling that his travel ban was unconstitutional.
On Monday, the Supreme Court decided it would hear the case on the ban later this year.
“The platform lets him speak directly to supporters whenever he chooses,” Bakos said. “Unfortunately for the rest of us, they aren’t the only ones listening.”
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Note: This article appeared at Special Ops Magazine on June 28, 2017.